Could you be Fooled at Local Farmers’ Markets?
My regular readers know that I’m a huge fan of buying locally-grown produce. Next to growing your own, it’s the most eco friendly way to eat. But could we be fooled at local farmers’ markets and roadside stalls?
Today’s Guest Post is written by farmer John Goforth – he has some great advice to share!
Sometimes on a cold winter’s night, I’ll be counting the weeks until the first home grown summer tomatoes will be ripe enough to eat.
With all those months of anticipation, it doesn’t surprise me that some vendors can get away with what I consider a sin: Passing trucked-in produce off as locally grown.
Year after year, you see folks who have a genuine interest in buying locally-grown produce purchasing from middleman vendors with produce that has been trucked-in from hundreds of miles away.
To me, this is irony at its finest: People go to local farmers’ markets to escape the trucked-in goods and end up buying trucked-in goods at their local farmers’ market.
You have to be very careful in order to avoid it, but realistically, it ends up happening to most of us. It’s even happened to me!
One year, when we lost our entire crop of plums to brown rot, I stopped at a roadside stand to buy a peck of plums. A father and son duo was running the stand. There were a few bushels of fruit on the table beside a field of corn. This put me at ease.
“Did you grow these yourself?”
“Yes sir!” the 14 year old boy said.
…and I fully believed him. Until 30 minutes later when I ended up chewing on a “Product of California” sticker. (This was a good indication that it wasn’t local since I live about 2,500 miles from California.)
“%$@# penhooker!” I said after spitting out bits of plastic sticker and mediocre plum. I really felt suckered. I really was suckered! (For those of you unfamiliar with the term penhooker, that’s how agricultural producers refer to middlemen pejoratively.)
Irony at its finest: People go to local farmers’ markets to escape the trucked-in goods and end up buying trucked-in goods at their local farmers’ market
It’s always a good idea to ask where the produce came from. If you get the following response, be sceptical!
“Where were these tomatoes grown?”
“Oh I picked those up in ***-ville.”
“How about these onions?”
“I got those over in ***-ville, too”
99% of the time I’ve overheard this conversation the %$@# penhooker in question was gently trying to persuade his patron that the produce was grown locally just a few miles away. The reality of the story was that the penhooker picked up his goods at a produce wholesaler located in ***-ville who brought them in on a truck from Timbuktu and Kalamazoo.
You would not believe how many times I’ve heard this pitch or how many times I’ve seen it work.
Next: John’s 5 Tips for Farmers Markets – what you need to know!
(Note from Clare: Yes, I have been fooled at local farmers’ markets and roadside stalls too. But not any more!)